Christian Kirk

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

49ers running back Jerick McKinnon has had some brutal luck in recent years. After landing a big contract from San Francisco last offseason, he tore an ACL in the preseason. He never fully recovered from the issue, and will miss the entire 2019 season after suffering a separate knee injury. The guaranteed money in his deal is up, which means it might be tough for him to stick. McKinnon is due $6.5MM in 2020, and even though the organization thinks very highly of him as a player and person, “there is no way the 49ers can pay him that money,” writes Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Maiocco hypothesizes that the 49ers “will try to work out a one-year deal in which he remains with the club at a greatly reduced price,” and that “if he declines, he will not be back.” Shockingly considering he signed a four-year, $30MM deal last offseason, it seems like there’s a good chance McKinnon never plays a snap for San Francisco. They still have a very deep backfield with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr., so it’s obvious why they wouldn’t want to give McKinnon $6.5MM as he enters his age 28 season coming off two lost years.

Here’s more from the NFC West, as we await kickoff in the morning:

  • In the same piece, Maiocco writes about another member of the 49ers who might not be long for the team. C.J. Beathard lost the competition to be the team’s backup quarterback to Nick Mullens, but they’ve kept him on the roster. There was talk that San Francisco would try to trade one of their young backups this offseason, but Maiocco writes that they’ve tried and “there is no interest around the NFL in acquiring C.J. Beathard for the price the 49ers want in return.” Maiocco speculates that the team might eventually pull the plug and release Beathard outright if injuries pile up and they need the roster spot. Beathard, a 2017 third-round pick from Iowa, has started five games each of the past two seasons and has looked competent at times.
  • The Cardinals are still looking for their first win, and they just got dealt a tough injury blow. Promising second-year receiver Christian Kirk will miss their Week 5 game against the Bengals, and it sounds like he could be out even longer. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t rule out Kirk for the team’s Week 6 game against the Cardinals, but he did say the team wouldn’t rush him back, and that “it’s a long season,” per Darren Urban of the team’s official site (Twitter link). It’s too early to tell for sure, but Kingsbury using that type of language suggests they’re going to be pretty cautious. The 47th overall pick of last year’s draft, Kirk is dealing with an ankle injury.
  • The Rams dropped their second straight game on Thursday to fall to 3-2, and now a key player is banged up. Receiver Brandin Cooks was placed in the concussion protocol following the team’s loss to Seattle, head coach Sean McVay said Friday. McVay said Cooks was asymptomatic as of yesterday, but it’s still concerning given Cooks’ history with concussions. Thankfully for the Rams he has a few extra days to get cleared since they played a Thursday night game, but this is still a situation worth monitoring. Los Angeles relies on Cooks to stretch defenses vertically, and him missing anytime is the last thing a suddenly struggling Rams team needs.

NFC West Rumors: Polite, 49ers, Cardinals

Jachai Polite became the only 2019 third-round pick to be booted from a roster after cutdown weekend, but the Jets Day 2 selection found his way to the Seahawks‘ practice squad. Pete Carroll said the Seahawks placed a late-first- or early-second-round grade on the Florida product, per ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson. Polite will have a chance to develop in Seattle, doing so behind Jadeveon Clowney, Ziggy Ansah and first-round pick L.J. Collier — none of whom were part of the 2018 Seahawks.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • While some of the 49ers‘ injury troubles are here to stay, with Jerick McKinnon on season-ending IR again, the team received good news on other key cogs. Nick Bosa returned to practice this week and is improving daily, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required). Jason Verrett joined Bosa in going through a limited Wednesday practice. Dee Ford was not listed as limited. Despite John Lynch at one point being 50-50 on Bosa’s Week 1 availability, it appears much of the concern around these San Francisco’s newcomers was overblown. Though, Bosa’s spate of setbacks over the past year have, fairly or unfairly, attached an “injury prone” label to the Ohio State product for the time being.
  • The Cardinals were the only team to submit a waiver claim for offensive lineman Brett Toth, Barrows adds. The U.S. Army cleared Toth on Wednesday morning to pursue a career with the Cardinals, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Prior to signing with the Eagles midway through last month, Toth had not participated in a practice in 18 months. Under the previous guidelines, Toth would have been locked into his service requirement. However, he’ll be able to put all of that on hold as he pursues his NFL dream.
  • With the Cardinals cutting 2017 fifth-rounder T.J. Logan and former Rams All-Pro returner Pharoh Cooper, Christian Kirk expects to reprise his role as the Cardinals’ punt returner, Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic notes. Kliff Kingsbury did not confirm as much, but Kirk returned 21 punts as a rookie. While at Texas A&M, Arizona’s current WR2 notched six punt-return TDs in three seasons.
  • Arrested on suspicion of DUI last month, Cardinals COO Ron Minegar will be suspended six weeks and fined $200K, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Steve Keim was suspended five weeks and also fined $200K last year for his “extreme” DUI. Minegar serves more as a business-side Cards exec.
  • Free agent tackle Marshall Newhouse visited the 49ers this week, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio notes (on Twitter). The Saints released the 30-year-old edge blocker from IR via injury settlement last weekend. Newhouse played 14 games with the Bills and Panthers last season.

Cardinals Place Kirk, Iupati On IR

The Cardinals upset the Packers on Sunday – and cost Mike McCarthy his job in the process – but the win proved to be costly. On Monday afternoon, head coach Steve Wilks announced that wide receiver Christian Kirk (knee) and guard Mike Iupati (knee) have been placed on season-ending injured reserve. 

Kirk, 22, was selected in the second round of this year’s draft out of Texas A&M. While this has been a largely forgettable season for the Cardinals, Kirk has flashed at various points during his rookie season, including four games with upwards of 70 yards receiving. His campaign will end with 43 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns plus a 7.8 yards-per-return average on punts.

Iupati, a four-time Pro Bowler, has struggled to stay healthy in over the last two seasons. Last year, he was shelved after just one game thanks to bone spurs in his elbow. The injury could mark the end of his run in Arizona – last year, he agreed to a restructuring of his deal that will allow the Cardinals to dump him before the 2019 season with just $1.7MM in dead money.

The Cardinals’ depth on the interior line could allow them to get by without adding a guard, but they’ll almost certainly add a wide receiver to replace Kirk, who served as the No. 2 option behind Larry Fitzgerald. Chad Williams‘ status for Week 14 is in doubt due to an ankle injury, leaving Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson, and Trent Sherfield as the club’s only healthy receivers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Charges Dropped For Christian Kirk

Cardinals rookie wide receiver Christian Kirk is no longer in trouble – legally speaking – for an alleged incident in February (via WHAS11). Kirk agreed to pay for damages to a van window that police claimed was destroyed by Kirk and a friend. 

The Cardinals knew about Kirk’s arrest before the draft, but selected him with the No. 47 overall pick after interviewing him about the incident. The legal issues tied to the case are now behind him and Kirk is unlikely to face league discipline since the alleged incident took place before he was in the league.

Kirk, who had no known off-the-field issues in high school or college, excelled at Texas A&M. In three seasons, he amassed nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards and cemented himself as one of the best receivers in his class.

The Cardinals project to use Kirk as a supporting piece behind No. 1 wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald this year. J.J. Nelson and free agent addition Brice Butler also figure to see a significant number of targets, though it remains to be seen whether it will be Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen throwing the passes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Sign WR Christian Kirk

The Cardinals signed second-round pick Christian Kirk to his rookie contract, the team announced. Per the terms of his slot, Kirk will earn roughly $5.9MM over the course of his four-year deal. 

Heading into the draft, Kirk had some buzz as a potential first-round selection. The Cardinals, who needed to fortify their wide receiver group after selecting quarterback Josh Rosen in the first round, were delighted to land Kirk at No. 47 overall.

Kirk certainly performed like a top-flight talent in his three years at Texas A&M as he amassed nearly 2,976 all-purpose yards across three seasons. With a solid work ethic and tough on-field playing style, the Cardinals believe that Kirk can be molded into a reliable threat, even though he does not possess the same top-end speed as other wide receivers in his class.

The Cardinals project to use Kirk as a supporting piece behind No. 1 wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald this year. J.J. Nelson and free agent addition Brice Butler also figure to see a significant number of targets in Sam Bradford‘s offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cards, Texans, Colts, Redskins

While the NFL world this week learned Cardinals second-round rookie Christian Kirk was arrested for disorderly conduct and property damage in February, prosecutors may not have a strong case against the former Texas A&M wideout. The main witness cited by police was lying on a bench and not watching while a van window was allegedly broken by Kirk and his friends, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. That same witness claims he saw Kirk and a friend throwing rocks at other cars, but no damage was reported on any other vehicle. The case against Kirk is still pending, but Arizona knew about the arrest before making him the 47th overall pick in the draft. It’s unlikely Kirk ever faces any legal ramifications from the incident, while the league has avoided suspending players involved in pre-NFL off-field trouble.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Tyrann Mathieu was famously versatile during five seasons with the Cardinals, but the Texans — Mathieu’s new football home — have a more fixed set of objectives for the Honey Badger, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. “We talked about that when we were speaking to him during the process,” said Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. “We told him that we really do value – as you know – we value versatility, but we also understand that a guy needs to have basically one home. He needs to understand and master that one home, which is safety for Tyrann. Then, in different packages that are played less of the time, maybe he does something else.” Mathieu inked a one-year, $7MM deal with Houston earlier this year, and that figure has surprisingly stood as the highest annual value for any non-franchised free agent safety contract this offseason.
  • Free agent quarterback Cody Keith is working out for the Colts on Wednesday, and previously auditioned for the Chargers and Rams, per Rapoport (Twitter link). A former four-star recruit, Keith was limited by injuries during his collegiate career at East Carolina, and was only attempted just 11 passes before moving to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Since that time, Keith has spent time in the Canadian Football League and in the Spring League, working on Johnny Manziel‘s team in the latter venture.
  • The Redskins announced that they’ve hired Brian Lafemina as their new president of business operations and chief operating officer. While the hiring doesn’t involve football operations on its face, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculates that Lafemina’s addition could be a precursor the Washington parting ways with much-maligned team president Bruce Allen. However, the Redskins’ press release states Allen will continue in his current role, while John Keim of ESPN.com hears Twitter link) Lafemina will focus mainly on stadium development.
  • Speaking of business operations, new Panthers owner David Tepper may look to hire former Browns president and CFO Mike Keenan, tweets Rapoport. Keenan, who was team president in Cleveland from 2008-10, has recently worked in consulting, per Rapoport, and working with clubs in multiple sports. While Tepper may make changes on the business end once he takes over in Carolina, he’s not expected to revamp the Panthers’ football staff.

Cardinals Rookie WR Christian Kirk Arrested

Cardinals second-round wide receiver Christian Kirk will come into the NFL with a recent arrest on his record.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports the Texas A&M product was arrested for disorderly conduct and property damage in February. Kirk and some friends were seen throwing rocks at cars at the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. The police report indicates Kirk and the others were intoxicated leaving the golf tournament and throwing rocks at cars in the parking lot.

The Cardinals knew about this arrest before the draft, and Somers adds the case is still pending. Kirk attended Arizona’s minicamp and is expected to attend OTAs, which begin Tuesday.

We spoke with Christian about it at length and also looked into it independently,” the team said in a statement. “Our understanding is that the process will be resolved in the near future but while it remains an active legal matter, we won’t comment further.”

Kirk, who is not believed to have been in trouble in high school or college, per Somers, is expected to play a key role for the Cardinals this season. The team lost both John Brown and Jaron Brown in free agency but used a second-round pick on Kirk, who starred at A&M.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Key, Jackson, Kirk, Price, Patriots

Former LSU defensive end and top draft prospect Arden Key has told teams that he has been sober for more than a year, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes.

This is big news from a player who has been speculated to have off-the-field concerns. Key is supposedly being up front with the teams about his issues, which included taking a leave of absence from the Tigers for four months beginning in February 2017 for personal reasons. He will not disclose the reasoning for that absence with the media — which is his right — but is reportedly laying it all out in front of teams.

Rated as one of the top prospects before the start of the 2017 season, Key is now viewed mostly as a potential late-first-round pick, but more likely to go off the board on second day of the draft.

Noted pass rush coach Chuck Smith is a big fan of Key, saying he is a threat to challenge for double-digit sacks the moment he enters the league. His honesty with teams and ability to stay sober for more than a year could put teams more at ease about taking a shot on the talented pass rusher.

Here’s more surrounding the draft:

  • Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk visited with the Steelers on Friday, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Kirk has also visited with the Seahawks and Panthers, a pair of teams in need of a receiver. The Steelers seem set at the position with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster but have not been shy about adding to a loaded receiver position in the past.
  • Former Cardinals head coach and quarterback guru Bruce Arians is a big fan of Louisville product Lamar Jackson, Bob McManaman of AZ Central writes. “I think Lamar puts the time in. He’s going to get better, and he just brings that unique ability to break the game open with his legs. Because he does it. He sits in there and flips it up the field,” Arians said. “He’s been in a pro-style offense. He’s more of a scrambler with designed runs. I don’t think I’d design runs for him. I would just let him, a la Russell Wilson, take what’s there, and whoosh, take off running.” The Cardinals could have interest in Jackson at the No. 15 spot in the upcoming draft.
  • In a panel piece on ESPN, a host of writers tabbed left tackle as the position the team should focus on in the first round if everything were to fall perfectly. With the team owning the 23rd and 31st picks, New England could potentially address the position by taking Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey late in the first round. The tackle is rated by many pundits as the best at the position this year.
  • Ohio State center/guard Billy Price had his NFL Combine medical recheck on Friday, Darren Wolfson of KSTP 5 News reports (Twitter link). He notes the potential first-round pick is expected to receive full clearance soon.

NFL Draft Rumors: Rosen, Dolphins, Hurst

Is UCLA star Josh Rosen the top quarterback in this year’s draft? Josh Rosen thinks so.

I’m the best QB in the draft,” Rosen told Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine. “A lot of guys are flashier, but I think I’m the most efficient, monotonously consistent QB in this draft. Rodgers has some flair, but if you watch Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, there’s nothing that’s explosive or Johnny Manziel — like. It’s just quarterbacking.”

Rosen has gotten some flack for his willingness to speak on social issues and interests outside of the game of football, but he says that he is focused on winning games and titles at the next level.

Here’s more draft news:

  • South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst had dinner with Dolphins brass on Tuesday night and has a top 30 visit with the team on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Dolphins are in need of a tight end as Julius Thomas and Anthony Fasano remain unsigned. Hurst, a former pro baseball player who walked on as a tight end for the Gamecocks, may have the most upside of any tight end in this year’s draft.
  • Key members of the Seahawks brass including GM John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll spent Tuesday at Arizona St. privately working out Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk, Rapoport tweets. The Seahawks lost Paul Richardson to free agency this year and could use an impact player like Kirk to replace him. For now, Seattle projects to start Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett and also have offseason pickups Jaron Brown and Marcus Johnson in the mix. With the No. 19 pick in their possession, the Seahawks could be in range for the Aggies star.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs

Contract talks between the Falcons and franchise quarterback Matt Ryan have been enveloped by positive words from both sides, and today Ryan affirmed that while no deal is close, talks are moving towards an end goal. “Everything is good. I think the discussions have been very positive. I think those will work out,” said Ryan, whom Atlanta is reportedly willing to make the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback (story via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “As far as a time frame of anything like that, it will shake out. It will handle itself. I don’t know if it will be today or tomorrow. Or in a couple of weeks, but I really think we are moving in the right direction.”

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Adding new weapons for quarterback Cam Newton was one of the Pantherstop offseason goals, and the club doesn’t figure to stop doing so even after acquiring Torrey Smith and signing Jarius Wright. Carolina will be taking a look at multiple wideout prospects in the coming days, as D.J. Moore (Maryland) and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) are each scheduled to meet with the Panthers, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Moore and Kirk aren’t the only pass-catchers Carolina is eyeing, as reports earlier today indicated that Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Memphis’ Anthony Miller will also visit the Panthers.
  • The Buccaneers will meet with Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. While Tampa Bay figures to be set along the interior of its front five after inking center Ryan Jensen last month, the club could still use help at tackle. Former second-round pick Donovan Smith currently mans Jameis Winston‘s blindside, but he’s consistently struggled and last season graded as just the No. 53 tackle among 81 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. McGlinchey, meanwhile, is viewed as one of the best tackles in a weak class that also includes Connor Williams (Texas) and Kolton Miller (UCLA).
  • The Falcons have announced a few late additions to their coaching staff, as they’ve hired Travis Jones as an assistant defensive line coach and Aden Durde as a defensive quality control assistant. Jones, notably, is fresh off a five-year run with the Seahawks during which he served as the team’s DL coach for four seasons. He’s also worked for the Dolphins, and Saints at the NFL level.